Introduction to the Book of Romans
Imagine hating Christians so much that the goal of your life is to put an end to their movement. Breathing murderous threats, you set off with the appropriate letters and travel far and wide to arrest anyone belonging to this dangerous movement.
But during this time, you come face to face with the resurrected Lord Jesus and the course of your life takes on a dramatic change. Preaching the same faith you once tried to destroy, your life’s accounts become epic stories of faith, your letters are widely read, and your insights become the topic of debate for centuries to come.
The Apostle Paul was the man responsible for spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ to the far reaches of the known world. What he taught was so radical that, even today, the followers of Jesus still strive for understanding.
The Book of Romans is a masterfully written exposition on God’s grace and the righteousness that comes by grace through faith. This book (a letter) is the foundation of the entire Christian faith. It was so radical that the Apostle Paul explains this gospel was received by direct revelation from the Lord Jesus Christ (Gal. 1:11-12).
The truth contained in this letter had the power to transform a murderous Pharisee into the man we know as the Apostle Paul. It has greatly influenced men like Augustine, Martin Luther, and John Wesley, and it has profoundly affected my life as well.
If you want to know the Lord Jesus in an intimate personal way, this letter is for you!
Here’s the Background Information
Paul was the apostle to the Gentiles (Rom. 1:5). The church in Rome was comprised of Gentile believers who converted from idol worship and devoted Jews who believed Jesus was their promised Messiah. They were a diverse group of people who settled in Rome from other areas. Many assume these Christians were in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2), and as the persecution of the Church began, they spread.
Although there is no record of a previous visit by an apostle offering doctrinal teaching, the Apostle Paul wrote to settle a dispute. Problems arose when the Jews urged the Gentiles to undergo the rite of circumcision. Paul felt obligated to write, settling this argument and then fully explaining the grace of God.
Here’s the Main Theme
“The overarching theme of Romans is the righteousness that comes from God; the glorious truth that God justifies guilty, condemned sinners by grace alone through faith in Christ alone.” ~ John MacArthur
Here’s the Thesis Verses
“I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith” (Rom. 1:16-17).
Here Are the Topics Covered
The Book of Romans covers a multitude of topics including grace, salvation, redemption, righteousness apart from the law, justification of sinners, sanctification, freedom from sin, freedom from law, eternal salvation, living by the Spirit, Israel’s acceptance of God’s righteousness, holy living, and, of course, the deep and profound love of God in Christ Jesus.
Teaching Romans and Need Help?
I get correspondence referencing how others have used my observations from Romans as they prepared to teach, I am deeply honored by this. I recently taught a Sunday school class on the Book of Romans, so I wanted to make my handouts available to use. These are simple overviews on each chapter along with group discussion questions. Feel free to download, customize, and use them.
This Is Why I Love this Letter
No book of the Bible has had a greater impact on my life. I spent 2009–2010 writing verse by verse through this letter and it changed my life. As I refresh and repost these writings, I hope to share my real-life struggles and the deep ways that Christ has brought change into my life because of these truths. Please join me on this journey!
Original article published April 29, 2009.